A THREE-year-old boy has become the youngest member of Mensa after scoring 137 in an IQ test, it was revealed yesterday.
Mikhail Ali’s test results put him in the top 2 per cent of his age group, enabling him to join the society for people with high IQs. The toddler, of Bramley, Leeds, was accepted after completing a series of tests involving maths, number sequences, logic and picture puzzles during his assessment at the University of York.
Mikhail’s mother, Shamsun, , 26, said: "We’re incredibly proud of him. We knew he was a gifted child but we had no idea quite how gifted until now.
"Every day he amazes us, but underneath it all he’s still our little boy, too. He still plays with his toys and demands food. He’s progressing so quickly that it’s difficult for us to keep him challenged."
Mikhail learned to read and write basic words at the age of two and understands the Arabic alphabet. His parents would like to see him start school full-time but several schools have told them they feel that he may not be "emotionally ready" to begin lessons.
His father Tahir, 37, said: "We’re keen for him to get on but we also want to give him a normal life. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him."
A Mensa spokeswoman confirmed Mikhail was its current youngest member and said the organisation had only 30 members under the age of ten.
Dr Colin Cooper, a psychologist at Queen’s University in Belfast who specialises in intelligence testing, said one in 50 three-year-old children across Britain had the same IQ.
"The Wechsler Pre-school and Primary Scale of Intelligence is one of the better tests because it is not easy to test children’s IQ."
But some psychologists argue it is wrong to concentrate on intelligence in such a young child. Margaret McAllister, a former president of the British Psychological Society, said: "Intelligence tests are notoriously unreliable at pre-school age. It is very important that a child of three is seen as a whole child with more than just their intellect.
"I am certainly not in favour of directly teaching reading and number work at this age and there is a lot more important things he should be doing. School at this age would also be an unhappy experience for him as he is not emotionally equipped."
However, Lyn Allcock, a special-needs teacher for gifted and talented children at Westwood High School in the West Midlands, who said her 23-year-old son was reading Charles Dickens by the time he was four, said very bright children needed extra stimulation.
"There is the risk of a very bright child becoming disillusioned, either if they are not stretched enough or if they have pushy parents that put too much onto them.
"I took my son out of school when he was seven and educated him at home because he was so miserable. What tends to happen with bright children is that they get annoyed when their peers aren’t able to understand their humour or cannot grasp the concepts they can and they become frustrated."